The problem with positive thinking

As is the way, the first few weeks of the New Year has seen papers, magazines and social media platforms brimming with articles, ideas and tips from the latest ‘Guru’ telling us how to be healthier, slimmer and happier.

We live in interesting times when it seems that all someone has to do is make enough noise on social media and they get accepted as some kind of expert as people hang on to their every word and give them ‘likes’.

The intention may be good but the problem I can see is that so much of what we hear and see is contradictory and it can easily send people in a direction that won’t help them.

This week I saw somebody had posted up the following quote on LinkedIn…

‘If you realised how powerful your thoughts are you’d never think a negative thought again.’

If powerful means that certain thoughts can be a very intense experience, then you’d have to agree with this.

The special effects department of the mind is far more powerful than anything you could ever experience at the movies.

But never think a negative thought again?

This seems to be suggesting that we get to choose our thoughts and in doing so we would only choose ‘positive’ ones.

The truth is that the human experience, the one each of us is having, encompasses the whole palette of what it’s possible for us to experience.

We don’t even get to choose our thoughts.

As I think of my own experience over the past week or so, I can see that I have felt a whole variety of feelings… happy, low, positive, negative, enthusiastic, discouraged, forgiving, irritated… and lots more.

What so many of the ‘Gurus’ are telling us is not actually possible. Being positive all the time is not a realistic goal.

If we think it is wrong to feel negative then we’ll spend an awful lot of time trying to not be negative, which is the very activity that creates even more negative thinking!

From my own experience, the clearer I get on the fact that my mind only works one way, the quicker my mind clears.

I still get moods, but they are just part of life. If I don’t get preoccupied or bothered with them then there’s no problem.

A healthy, high-functioning mind is what nature gave us and it is only when we try to intervene that we create problems for ourselves.

The biggest ‘Megatrend’ of our time

Scientists seem to generally agree that we humans are the most intelligent species on Earth.

You would think, therefore, that we would have this experience of life nailed down and in many ways, we have.

This intelligence has allowed us to do what no other creature has come close to. We have built civilisations, come up with literally millions of products and ways to make our lives richer and physically easier, and we continue to evolve at a breath-taking pace.

A few years ago, I read a book called ‘Megatrends 2010’ by Patricia Aburdene, best-selling author and renowned social forecaster.

Through accurate and compelling research, she identified that the biggest ‘Megatrend’ of our time is that we seek more spirit (78% of people).

She realised that in a world that seems increasingly turbulent, unpredictable and uncertain, (and likely to remain this way) we naturally begin to look within.

And with good reason.

Anyone who has watched ‘The Blue Planet 2’ can see that we are destroying our world.

It is plainly obvious that far too many people are struggling with life.

A greater and greater number of us are realising that rampant materialism does not create lasting happiness and contentment.

So, what does looking within really mean? How do we do this?

To me, looking within means acknowledging, connecting with and nurturing our spiritual (non-physical) essence. It means seeing that we are an expression of something bigger than our individual selves and that we are all connected.

The more we are willing to see this truth, the more we open our hearts. As this happens we naturally live in greater harmony with ourselves, other people and the world.

On the question of ‘How?’, I think this is the wrong question.

I was out to dinner with a friend recently and we were talking about this very subject.

I shared that in 30 plus years of being a seeker of what looking within means I have come across two communities of people who experience evolving, improving and lasting levels of well-being and spiritual growth.

These two communities are the people who have learned to meditate (and practice daily) and the people who have learned the inside-out understanding.

I am not saying there aren’t others, but this is my own (and relatively limited) personal experience.

I was very committed to the practice of meditation for over 12 years and then I stopped (my blog about this is here if you want to know why).

The inside-out understanding is something that doesn’t require us to do anything at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. It is the realisation that we are part of this intelligence that is greater than our personal mind and, when we allow it to, it will beautifully and gracefully navigate us through life.

We don’t have to think about any of the trillions of processes that run our body from moment to moment, do we? You don’t have to think about taking your next breath, digesting your last meal, healing the cut to your hand, making your heart beat or walking without falling over (unless you’ve been on the sherry too much!).

The intelligence is built-in and does the work for us.

The mind is no different and yet we have taken on this idea that we need to try and control our lives.

It is the ego that wants to control and it can be an easy trap to fall into. Wayne Dyer used to say ‘ego’ is ‘Edging God Out’.

The result of this is a great deal of unnecessary inner conflict and, therefore, is at the root of all outer conflict – the greater mind is gently trying to point us in one direction and the little mind is trying to go in another.

If we truly want to thrive, experience our lives as meaningful and leave the world better for us having been here, it is so simple we can easily miss it.

The mind only works one way. From the inside-out. This truth is an utterly reliable constant.

The content of our thinking changes all the time and we have thousands of different thoughts every day. If we believe that the experience we are having has something to do with our circumstances then we’re immediately caught up in an illusion.

When we see ourselves as the thinker and that the nature of thought is that it is constantly changing, then we can be at peace with whatever experience we happen to be having.

We are then free to ‘be in the moment’ and enjoy life fully, even with all its ups and downs.

I have shared it before but as an end to this piece, this short video from Michael Neill is worth less than a couple of minutes of your time…